Across the public sector, agencies are faced with the challenge of understanding how to drive decisions by using analytics. With such tight budgets, limited resources and ever growing complexities facing public administrators, government is challenged with the task of identifying the best way to use data to enhance citizen services.
As operational challenges grow in governance, understanding data also becomes more complex. With the enormous amount of data available to public administrators and citizens, finding the right data to make an informed decision is one of many obstacles for the public sector. Another challenge is what to do with the right data and learning how the data can help improve the specific problem the agency is seeking to address.
I clearly remember being put into a position where I had access to enormous volumes data, but was not necessarily equipped with the right data and tools to make an informed decision. At the time, I was working for a non-profit agency and we were considering purchasing a second office. I started my analysis by focusing on a set of issues that I needed to solve, and moved forward thinking about what data I needed to perform my analysis. For instance, I asked questions like – “what will the impact be on donations,” “what other expenses will we incur by opening a new office?”, “what kind of implications does this have for staff?” Within each of those sets of questions, I was able to look for the right data I needed to perform my analysis.
What I found was that much of the data I needed to make a strong analysis, did not exist or had not been collected at our non-profit. I was finding that we needed to make strategic moves to develop the right data to improve business functions, it became more than just my analysis if we should purchase a second office. I found that many of the analytics we were developing would help support other important business functions of the non-profit.
The lesson is that as you begin to craft your analytics and work towards making a dashboard, you will learn so much about your organizations needs and areas of improvements. It’s not just the data that is telling you solutions, it is the investment of your time to think critically about your agency as well.
Finding the right data and developing the right analytics is critical to your success, and an absolute challenge. Driving decisions from well informed analytics will be critical to the success of agencies. To work towards solving complex issues in government, data needs to be well understood and agencies need to invest significant time purely defining the problem they are challenged to solve.
Are You Using the Right Data to Drive Decisions?
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